Wednesday, September 23, 2020

One day, I will outgrow my fourth grade ostracism

 When I was a little girl, I had two friends who sometimes fought, and often gossiped. In a fourth grade school yard tussle, Angel Heineschewitz accused Donna of grabbing her, pinching her, in the middle of a fighting huddle. I was a bystander, so Donna asked me, “Did you see my hand in there?”

“I don't know,” I answered honestly. Donna never forgave me.

The thing is, she had reason. Donna was the only black girl at school. I should have been able to say if her hand had been there or not. But I didn't see.

Donna started spreading rumors about me – that I'd been mean to her cousin, on the bus. I'd never met her cousin. She orchestrated a mass excommunication from the fourth grade girls friends circles. It wasn't until months, maybe a year, later, that I confronted her. “You know that I never said anything to your cousin, don't you?” I asked. 

“I know,” she answered. Matter of fact. 

            Julia Gandrud 2020. Use with permission only


Now, as a newly divorced woman with a hostile ex, I am afraid of the same thing. He is charismatic, and I am not. He is friendly, and I am crabby. Whenever one of our mutual friends doesn't respond to me, I fear the worst. 

I'm trying to remind me of the following rule: 

How do you know that your friends are your friends? 

Because they are there. 

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